Minto end of summer

Twenty four hours after returning home and finishing Work Marathon 2017, I find myself bored and restless again. The year has been eventful- London and Reykjavik in January, Boston in March, treeplant from May to July, British Columbia and the cherry orchard from July to September. The country beckons with its vast fist and endless opportunity and I sink myself into projects for the month of September while I plan my next move. James Taylor sings, “Late last night/and dark outside/ I think I might have heard the highway calling.” Apt.

The markets are abundant with Ontario produce, the harvest on-going in the fields and gardens turned to verdant crops. There are silky, fat ears of corn and tomatoes of all varieties of colors, shapes and sizes. I find Shropshire blue cheese in the St.Jacob’s market from a vendor who tells me all about the history of Clifford and Mildmay. Summer sausages are hanging in their netting, aged flavor percolating throughout the flesh and sinew. I find an orchid that reminds me of my garbage orchid, coaxed to flower again after being found in the garbage, bring her home for ten dollars, wondering when I will leave her behind and if I can bring her along. Perusing the stalls of green beans and peppers and flowers, I entertain the brief longing for a home, for the same-same routine of waking and feeding stock, nurturing from seed to fruit to harvest, trimming back raspberry canes and curtains that blow in a breeze that flutters through an open window. I don’t even have housekeys, for Chrissakes. The idle dream of farm ownership and land-stranded days is very far off indeed.

We stop on the side of the road and drop money into a coffee can and fill our bags with the ubiquitous sweet corn. I walk along the side of the Saugeen, dog in hand, while my laundry spins with the rose castile soap. The fellow at the counter at Neustadt Brewery remembers my name and pulls out the last store of the sour raspberry beer that is my favorite, and nearly always sold out. Down the road, I pick up my community supported agriculture share, slowing down to let the chickens run in front of the car, clucking insolently and peering at me with accusatory eyes. We pick plums and peaches at Keyzer’s and make chutneys and jams. Capable hands sterilize jars and skin tomatoes and pick dill sprigs from the plant, seal the jars and wipe them clean of the hard water deposits before storing them in the cold cellar basement. My sourdough starter ferments on the back of the woodstove, whole rye flour Mennonite ground and bagged and hand labelled. I stay busy, and it will never be enough.

Falling asleep, I remember hearing a loon crying out into the night and wishing, “Once more.” As if hearing, the loon complies and utters another piercing cry, directly overhead. I drift off smiling, the window open to the night and the crickets and the frogs and a loon, far off in time and space.

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